Would you believe that a car can roll uphill when left in neutral? Or that pendulums, brooms and even people seem out of whack in certain places in the world? We’re taking a closer look at gravity hills and mystery spots to see what they are all about.
A little research shows that gravity hills, also called magnetic mountains, mystery spots, mystery mountains or spooky hills, continue to fascinate people all over the world. Numerous newspaper articles have been written over the last few decades; a Google search using any of the keywords throws up hundreds of thousands of results; there is a Wikipedia entry about the phenomenon; and various videos can be found on You Tube.
Pictured here is one such strange spot situated close to Hell’s Canyon, at the border of Oregon and Idaho. At the marked start line on a road that, as the picture above shows, goes slightly uphill, visitors leave their car in neutral, brake off, and soon witness the car moving uphill on its own, before stopping after a few metres.
Image: Gangadhar Tambe
Thanks to distortions in perspective and odd angles, the gravity hill phenomenon seems to be nothing but an optical illusion that fools the human eye and brain into thinking the laws of physics have been defied. In most of these spots, an explanation is purposely not given as they become tourist attractions and, more often than not, money spinners.
In this picture, we can see the phenomenon in Leh, which is part of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Advertised as a “magnetic hill”, even a respected national newspaper like The Hindu got fooled and ran an article on “A Wonder in Ladakh” on 7th June 2003, playing up the magnetic properties of the hills around Leh. The reporter even quoted the Indo-Tibetan Border Police as saying that their aircraft and helicopters had to fly at greater heights because of the hill’s magnetic force.
In any case, this “magnetic hill” at the Leh-Kargil-Batalik national highway, plus the local Sikh temple, “Gurdwara Patthar Sahib” – where Guru Gobind Singh, the last guru of the Sikhs, is said to have meditated in the 17th century – guarantee a steady stream of believers.